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Friday, November 9, 2012

Tunisia Arrests Ansar al Sharia Member in Connection with US Embassy Assault

Bilel Chaouachi. Courtesy of Kapitalis.
The Tunisian government arrested Bilel Chaouachi, a Salafist imam who has openly praised Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, earlier this week.

Chaouachi was allegedly involved in the storming of the US Embassy in Tunis days after terrorists struck the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"Bilel Chaouachi is suspected of involvement in the September 14 events of the attack on the embassy and the American school, but before that there is another case pending against him for incitement to violence," Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche explained, according to Kapitalis.

The 26-year-old Chaouachi has been cited as a theology "student" in various press accounts because he attended a theological graduate school in Tunis. But identifies him as a "a member of the salafist Ansar al Sharia group."

The rabblerousing Chaouachi has garnered more influence in recent months, culminating in a shocking appearance on Ettounsiya TV shortly before his arrest.

Salafists have clashed with the Ennahda government in recent weeks, leading to an escalation in violence. Chaouachi was unapologetic, however, claiming that the government was at fault. He also stunned viewers by openly praising al Qaeda's leaders.

"We, the jihadist salafist movement with our scholars and theoreticians headed by Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, and Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God protect him, say that this country is a land of preaching and not a land of war, even when it is not ruled according to Islamic law," Chaouachi said during his television appearance, according to

Tunisian officials maintain that Chaouachi's television appearance was not the reason for his arrest, with the Interior Ministry saying it was "a simple coincidence."

Chaouachi has advocated for jihad against Bashar al Assad's regime in Syria. "It is the duty of all Muslims to support the struggle of the Syrian people against despotism," the Associated Press quoted Chaouachi as saying earlier this year.

Chaouachi is not the only Ansar al Sharia member implicated in the storming of the US Embassy in Tunis.

The head of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia is Seifullah Ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyadh), who is also wanted in connection with the Sept. 14 assault. Hassine has longstanding ties to al Qaeda. In 2000, Hassine co-founded the Tunisian Combatant Group (TCG) "in coordination with" al Qaeda, according to the United Nations.

The TCG helped execute the Sept. 9, 2001 assassination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was killed by two Tunisians pretending to be journalists. Massoud's assassination was an integral part of al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001 plot, as it removed an influential adversary from the battlefield before American-led forces set foot inside Afghanistan.

Hassine formed a fighting group in late 2001 that was dedicated to defending Osama bin Laden at the Battle of Tora Bora. And the TCG was connected to several significant terrorist plots in Europe, including a planned attack on the US Embassy in Rome. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda ally orchestrated assault on US Embassy in Tunisia.]


Colorado, Washington First States to Legalize Recreational Pot

(Reuters) - Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration.

But another ballot measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was defeated in Oregon, where significantly less money and campaign organization was devoted to the cause.

Supporters of a Colorado constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana were the first to declare victory, and opponents conceded defeat, after returns showed the measure garnering nearly 53 percent of the vote versus 47 percent against.

"Colorado will no longer have laws that steer people toward using alcohol, and adults will be free to use marijuana instead if that is what they prefer. And we will be better off as a society because of it," said Mason Tvert, co-director of the Colorado pro-legalization campaign.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that backed the initiatives, said the outcome in Washington and Colorado reflected growing national support for liberalized pot laws, citing a Gallup poll last year that found 50 percent of Americans favored making it legal, versus 46 opposed.

Supporters of Washington state's pot legalization initiative declared victory after the Seattle Times and other media projected a win for marijuana proponents.

Early returns showed pro-legalization votes led with 55 percent versus to 44 percent opposed with about 60 percent of ballots tallied in the state's all-mail-in election system.

The outcomes in Colorado and Washington, which already have laws on the books legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, put both states in further conflict with the federal government, which classifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic.

The U.S. Department of Justice reacted to the measure's passage in Colorado by saying its enforcement policies remain unchanged, adding: "We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time."

Separately, medical marijuana measures were on the ballot in three other states, including Massachusetts, where CNN reported that voters approved an initiative to allow cannabis for medicinal reasons.

Supporters there issued a statement declaring victory for what they described as "the safest medical marijuana law in the country." Seventeen other states, plus the District of Columbia, already have medical marijuana laws on their books.

A measure that would have made Arkansas the first state in the South to legalize marijuana for medical purposes appeared headed for defeat by 51 percent to 49 percent with about 80 percent of the vote tallied.


Under the recreational marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington, personal possession of up to an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana would be legal for anyone at least 21 years of age. They also will permit cannabis to be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system modeled after a regime many states have in place for alcohol sales.

Oregon's initiative would have legalized state-licensed sales, as well as possession and cultivation of unlimited amounts of pot for personal recreational use.

The Colorado measure will limit cultivation to six marijuana plants per person, but "grow-your-own" pot would be still be banned altogether in Washington state.

Tvert said provisions legalizing simple possession in Colorado would take effect after 30 days, once the election results are certified. Colorado's amendment also mandates establishing rules for sales and excise tax collections once the state legislature reconvenes in January.

"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed the measure, said in a statement. "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through."

He added: "Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly."

The Obama administration has recently pressed an enforcement crackdown against pot dispensaries and greenhouses deemed to be engaged in large-scale drug trade under the pretense of supplying medical cannabis patients in California and elsewhere.

Before Tuesday's election, the administration had been largely silent on latest state ballot initiatives seeking to legalize recreational pot for adults.

Several former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration directors had urged Obama officials to come out forcefully against the measures, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did when he criticized a 2010 California pot legalization referendum that was soundly defeated by voters.

Critics say the social harms of legalizing pot - from anticipated declines in economic productivity to a rise in traffic and workplace accidents - would trump any benefits.

Backers point to potential tax revenues to be gained and say anti-pot enforcement has accomplished little but to penalize otherwise law-abiding citizens, especially minorities.

They also argue that ending pot possession prosecutions would free up strained law enforcement resources and strike a blow against drug cartels, much as repealing alcohol prohibition in the 1930s crushed bootlegging by organized crime.

"It's no worse than alcohol, and it's widely used in Colorado anyway," said Jean Henderson, 73, a retired resident of Broomfield, explaining her vote in favor of legalization. "The state can benefit from the taxes rather than put people in jail."

US Government Backs UN Arms Treaty and Bombs Yemen Hours After Obama Win

Within hours of the announcement that Obama was reelected, the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee was taking measures to reopen the UN arms treaty talks which would regulate the sale of firearms at a global level.

As for the president himself, he was ordering drone strikes in Yemen.

According to Reuters:

    “Hours after U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected, the United States backed a U.N. committee’s call on Wednesday to renew debate over a draft international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade.

    U.N. delegates and gun control activists have complained that talks collapsed in July largely because Obama feared attacks from Republican rival Mitt Romney if his administration was seen as supporting the pact, a charge Washington denies.

    The month-long talks at U.N. headquarters broke off after the United States – along with Russia and other major arms producers – said it had problems with the draft treaty and asked for more time.

    But the U.N. General Assembly’s disarmament committee moved quickly after Obama’s win to approve a resolution calling for a new round of talks March 18-28. It passed with 157 votes in favor, none against and 18 abstentions.”

There is a lot of propaganda surrounding the arms treaty and if you read through that full Reuters article you will find a whole bunch of excuses selling the idea that this measure is necessary and harmless.

One of the main selling points of the treaty is that it will apparently keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists, but as we saw with the fast and furious scandal, as well as with the long list of government gunrunning scandals before that, western governments are the biggest supplier of arms to criminals and terrorists.

With that being said, any measure that these governments take to control the sale or possession of firearms is a Trojan horse, designed to disarm the population.

Official sources say that the timing has absolutely nothing to do with the election, but that is highly questionable.

Obama didn’t have to wait for the end of the election to order drone strikes in Yemen, the one ordered last night was actually the fifth in less than a month.

This particular strike has killed three people, who mainstream news sources have marked as terrorists, however proof of these claims have been unsubstantiated.

According to one mainstream source:

“Three terrorists, including local al-Qaida commander Adnan al- Qathi who is wanted for bombing the U.S. embassy in Sanaa in late 2008, were confirmed killed Wednesday night in a Yemeni-U.S. joint airstrike operation which targeted the militants’ vehicle near Sayyan village outside the capital Sanaa,”
Drone attacks are a truly Orwellian concept that further desensitizes soldiers and people back home from the horrors of war.

There are many times where innocent civilians are hurt and killed in these bombings but those incidence go largely unreported.

It is likely that a restriction of freedoms in terms of gun control and an increase in drone attacks will continue under President Obama’s second term.

It is just as likely that these policies would have occurred under Romney as well. (The drone strikes would almost certainly continue but it is possible that Romney would have been less supportive of the UN Arms Treaty.)

It’s time for us to stop changing the player and start changing the game.

Sudden Insatiable Demand for Gasoline Could Trigger Martial Law in NYC

Over 75% of all filling stations in the city remain inoperable as a new storm system engulfs the region, limiting capabilities of the entire supply chain causing chaos at the pumps and elsewhere.

NEW YORK CITY — I’m sure you have all heard by now that people on Craigslist are selling gas for over $8 a gallon, and are even offering sex or precious metals for it.

However, this is not a joke, nor is it funny as things have turned for the worse.

Now, 10 days after hurricane Sandy struck — residents and officials have become uneasy, as New York City has officially entered a Mad Max-like era that is inching towards martial law.

Hundreds of gas stations citywide remain without fuel with residents wits being put to the test in what some would say is the worst fuel and weather crisis in US history. reported;
AAA Spokesman Michael Green said that even though power has been restored to many stations, the real issue lies with the distribution network.

“This week, it is shifting more to being a supply-system problem: getting gasoline from storage to distribution terminals to gas stations to the car you drive,” he said.

Nine out of 57 petroleum terminals impacted by the hurricane remain closed according to federal energy officials.

Of those nine, seven are located in New Jersey, one in Brooklyn and one on Long Island.
National Guard troops remain active in the region as more equipment is being brought in to combat the weather conditions.

Fuel supplies are now so limited that fears of martial law echo amongst residents as crime and violence are likely to increase in coming days if a solution to the gas crisis does not reveal itself.

Many businesses and employees have already been negatively affected by the crisis.

According to’s Fuel Shortage Tracker, things are looking pretty grim in and around New York City on the fuel front, not to mention the snow storm moving through now adding 200,000 more power outages to the region.

Currently over 20,000 NYC public housing residents still remain without power, raising questions about how people will stay warm.

Yahoo News reported, “Overall, about 700,000 people remain without electricity in the region, according to the latest estimate from FEMA. The nor’easter knocked out power to an additional 40,000 people Wednesday night.” 

Meanwhile,  Governor Andrew Cuomo stated today in an announcement to the press that this storm will likely cost the state of New York over $33 billion.


Record Snow as 200,000 More Power Outages Strike Northeast US – FEMA Centers Remain Closed

Parts of the Northeastern US were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in the last week, causing widespread damage and knocking power out for upwards of 10 days.

Now, residents are battling a new storm front that has brought record early snowfall, extreme winds, and temperatures.

As many as 200,000 homes reportedly lost power Thursday morning as a result of the storm.

Residents along the coastline of New York and New Jersey were evacuated. No one knows for sure how many more will be displaced.

This is a massive Nor’ Easter storm that has struck before the usual season, differing from the normal weather patterns that we usually see.

NBC reported record snowfall totals that were recorded across the area:

  • New York’s Central Park received 4.4 inches of snow on Wednesday — a record for a Nov. 7 and the earliest 4-inch total in the park’s history, reported. By Thursday morning the total had reached 4.7 inches.
  • A record snowfall of 2 inches was set at Newark, N.J., breaking the old record of a trace amount set in 1981.
  • Bridgeport, Conn., received 3.5 inches of snow, beating the Nov. 7 record of 2 inches set in 1953.

    Some areas inland got 12 to 13 inches of snow.

In New York, the situation remains tense, with FEMA Centers actually closed due to the bad weather.

The WSJ reported. “The Long Island Power Authority was reporting that nearly 40,000 of its customers had lost power in the new storm. At least another 11,000 Con Edison customers had been knocked out in the new round of bad weather, with the worst damage in Westchester County.”

These are very tough times for citizens all across the Northeast and the fact that FEMA is so incompetent that they can’t keep their centers open during a storm is furthering the suffering of citizens throughout the storm ravaged area.

Because the FEMA centers were located with food distribution and warming services, some residents who arrived there were confused by the closed centers.

The city’s food distribution centers, a lifeline for the thousands left without power, heat and water for more than a week, would only be operating until noon Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

And the National Guard, which was handing out food and water in Coney Island also shut down at 1:30 p.m. because of the weather, but continued handing out water to the line of approximately 30 people.

A spokemsan for the New York National Guard, Eric Durr, said that he could not comment on that specific instance but “we instructed our troops to pay attention to the weather and don’t take unecessary risks.”

Still, he said the guard would continue to provide relief as long as was needed.

In Staten Island, a printed paper sign taped to the front door of on the center at 6581 Hylan Blvd. at 10:30 a.m. read “FEMA Center Closed Due to Weather.”

The front doors of the disaster recovery center, which is housed inside the Mount Lorretto Catholic Youth Organization, were unlocked, but there was no staff anywhere in sight for at least a half an hour.

And a set of buses which served as a pair of warming centers at the site for the past several days were missing, according to non-FEMA volunteers who continued to hand out supplies from a nearby building despite the storm.

Still as of Thursday morning many FEMA Centers remain closed.